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An integrated transit system is an essential ingredient for any city aiming to identify as smart. As urban populations continue to grow, new innovations in technology and increasing access to real-time data are enabling municipalities to improve mobility access and efficiency. Smart cities are anticipating pain points and integrating multiple transit systems to reduce costs, pollution and traffic congestion, while also improving livability for their residents. From smart parking to bike infrastructure to Mobility-as-a-Service, cities around the world are making mobility more responsive as they use technology-driven solutions to address common transit issues.

Smart Parking: Reducing Traffic Congestion

Parking is one component of urban centres that cities are tackling by improving transit experiences and outcomes. Incorporating smart parking can increase a city’s revenue, maximize use of space and reduce pollution and traffic congestion. As such, many smart cities are making innovative use of data and technology in their parking and traffic management systems.

Digital Parking Assistance

An easy first step that smart cities take in addressing parking congestion is to limit the number of available parking spaces in order to encourage fewer single-car trips during peak hours. Installing connected sensors to collect data on parking availability ensures that the use of existing parking spaces is maximized. Drivers can then connect through mobile and in-vehicle apps to find out where parking spots are available before reaching their destination. Along with improving the experience for drivers, smart parking also reduces congestion by lowering the number of cars on the road that are searching for a parking spot.

Demand-Based Pricing

Moreover, smart cities are using technology to adjust parking fees based on demand, congestion and air pollution. For example, in Singapore sensors have been installed throughout the city in order to track data and adjust parking fees and traffic lights accordingly. Meanwhile, San Francisco is employing smart parking by adjusting prices based on availability.

The Best Thing on Two Wheels: City Cycling  

Smart cities are increasingly turning to bicycles as a solution to accommodate new transit needs, encouraging residents to be more active and to reduce congestion. From bike sharing and smart cycling systems such as Bicing in Barcelona and Mobike in China, to increasing bike lanes and other cycling infrastructure, over 900 cities worldwide are looking to cycling as an accessible, affordable and eco-friendly alternative to driving. City bikes are now designed to be more portable, carry large loads (including children!), go longer distances and accommodate riders with different abilities. These versatile bikes are making mobility cheaper and less of a hassle for many commuters, with the added bonus of stress-free parking and access to car-free zones.

The Future is Integrated

As urban centres use technological advancements to address a growing list of transit ills, the integration of multiple systemsincluding bike routes, commuter trains, ridesharing and taxi servicesis key. With a shift away from individual vehicle ownership, public transit is increasingly seen as a service that residents, businesses and visitors should be able to access on demand. As such, a number of tech-enabled opportunities are on the rise.  

Fleet Expansion

Urban centres are integrating smart public transit systems by improving infrastructure and creating larger, fuel-efficient fleets. For instance, London has invested in multiple new bus and metro fleets that are more sustainable and energy efficient in order to keep up with demand, while cutting down on costs and emissions.

Mobility-as-a-Service

At the same time, network technologies and app services offered by various Mobility-as-a-Service providers, including fleet management systems, can help cities create more integrated and efficient transportation systems overall. Mobility-as-a-Service is a rising trend in the transit space: by linking various transit providers togethersuch as public transit, car sharing, bike sharing and taxi servicesusers are able to use single point, end-to-end digital app solutions. This enables easy-to-use and cost-efficient options that reduce pain points.

Dynamic Routing

Providing travellers with traffic information in real time, dynamic routing can enable users to anticipate roadblocks, change their routes and jump between services to reduce travel times. The city of Altamonte Springs, FL is integrating ridesharing, which allows customers who live far away from transit stations to combine public transit with Uber rides in order to reduce their commuting time. This also encourages residents to leave their personal car at home, reducing the need for parking and mitigating traffic congestion.

As cities continue to roll out smart initiatives, smart transit is providing tangible and efficient solutions to common mobility issues. From integrated transit apps to smart parking to increased bicycle infrastructure, cities are reducing traffic congestion, lowering emissions and eliminating pain points for their residents. The results are a win-win for municipalities, businesses and anyone trying to get from point a to point b.

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Image: Shutterstock / Donald Bowers Photography